Over the last year God has planted many seeds in my life but the idea of being Rooted was one that was resonating in a not so coincidental way. I had read several books leading up to the class being offered at Grace and felt compelled to participate with my church family in the idea of becoming Rooted.

I am a Holistic Health Practitioner. The idea of getting to the root in my field means we are fixing and healing from the inside, becoming whole and well. This further solidified my excitement to link arms with fellow Gracers in the Rooted series.

God brought 16 of us together and we committed to consistency, digging into what it looks like to be called to be Rooted in Jesus, in our faith and actually living out our faith on an active basis. Each week we were able hear each other’s “story” and I immediately felt bonded in a way that was unbreakable. When we hear each other’s stories, it connects us in a very authentic way. As our time together passed and we shared very vulnerable aspects of our faith life; our strengths and our weaknesses, I became keenly aware of how very different we are, yet so very capable, no matter what our past, to be used for the glory of God and to further His kingdom.

We were called in the series to actually begin “walking out” what it means to be Rooted. God provided us a family to minister to and we spent a day serving and loving on a local widow who had lost her husband earlier in the year. Each of us was uniquely woven into this experience and I was filled with a tremendous amount of joy – specifically the joy of the Lord, to be able to not only minister to this widow and her family, but simultaneously grin from ear to ear witnessing what it was like to actually put into action what God’s word calls us to do. It’s really quite simple; love like Jesus, make disciples and take care of the orphaned and widowed.

The church is a place where we can come to learn how to live our lives closer to Jesus. We provide a place for others to come get answers to some of life’s most complex questions.

I am profoundly grateful each day for Grace church. For the hope that it offers me, but also for the hope we provide when we open the doors for others to learn how our God is a redeemer, a restorer, and there isn’t anyone who is too far gone.

I am grateful for the offering of Rooted to our church; a dynamic call to action for the next level of commitment in our walk. Not however, just so that we are living well, but also to draw others into this same idea of purpose, of hope, of redemption and to walk out what they too have been called to do on this side of eternity.

Mosaic of Misfits: From Rooted to HopeFirst

This week marks the end of the Fall Rooted class at Grace and boy did we all walk in a wounded bunch. From family crisis to life-threatening health issues, from addiction to those hurt by the church, we were a mosaic of misfits (or at least my group was)!

Last Sunday, Pastor Dan suggested we ask God to shift our lives to be used by God and posed the question:

“What do we need to make room for?

In the case of our Rooted group, we decided to make room in our schedules for the 10-week class. To sacrifice our time for the potential to go deeper with the Lord, for the possibility of connecting with people and finding a church home. God blessed that over those 10 weeks and we now not only feel like family, but can’t wait to continue learning, growing and serving as a group at Grace.

Pastor Dan also told us that shifting is about “laying down what’s good for what’s great.” To this the lyrics of the Jonny Diaz song called “Breathe” came to mind:

“Lay down what’s good and find what’s best…”

As we transition into becoming a home group, we have begun to ask the question of what we will do as a group, as well as individually, to support Grace’s new audacious and huge HopeFirst initiative.

Some initial brainstorms…

We have looked at where help is still needed for the upcoming Discover Events and HopeFirst Day. As we have all been uniquely impacted by addiction, we have a special soft spot for seeing those six houses for recovering addicts become a reality. As parents, we have a desire to see God move in our city through a new building to welcome children to hear about Jesus.

In the meantime, we have discussed having a dinner together as a group where each couple brings one item to contribute in order to assemble bags we can hand out to the homeless we encounter in our community. Warm socks, snacks, chapstick, toothbrushes and the like.

As an individual, I’ve considered having a garage sale with proceeds going to HopeFirst. I also made the decision to wear a family heirloom ring on my left hand ring finger and sell my wedding ring in order to donate towards HopeFirst.

As the holiday season draws near, the mood around Grace Church is less about making a Christmas list of new stuff we want this year and more a time of contemplation of what we can sacrifice so that others can get what they need…of seeing their spiritual and felt needs met.

I challenge anyone reading this to ask themselves the same question. And for the guy thinking about popping the question to his girlfriend, I’ve got just the gorgeous, princess cut solitaire ring for you to buy…and the money you spend could change a person’s life!

Lexi King is a mom of 3 and a deliriously smitten wife. She is passionate about encouraging and connecting women, writing, music, Jesus and queso…not necessarily in that order.

30 Years

When I was 23 years old I got the worse news of my life. I was told I wouldn’t live to see 30. I had developed a condition that caused my body to throw blood clots, Factor V Leiden blood mutation. What confused doctors is the frequency of the clots. Even with this condition, I should be able to live a normal life but I was clotting on every medicine they put me on.

I fell into a slump, hard and deep. I spent a lot of time in bars, drinking and smoking and going home with women. I found myself constantly asking God why he would allow this. I have been a good person, why did I deserve this? When I had kids, the drinking and partying stopped, but the doubt and fear remained.

It wasn’t until I found myself in ROOTED, a class on going deeper with God provided at Grace Church, I found the answer I needed. One of the chapters talks about how to talk to God. Part of any conversation is listening, so why not listen to Him, too? Our group met to practice this after fasting and I was sitting outside; the sun had set and I prayed. I begged for some type of answer. I began to scribble on a piece of paper and tried to drown out the barking dogs and the planes flying overhead, but couldn’t. More frustration. After going back inside, I looked at my scribbles and in the middle of the page was a sentence. “I will never leave you alone.” My 30th birthday has come and gone, I am now 36. Thanks to Grace Church, my wife and my renewed faith I now have something I haven’t had in 13 years – peace. My name is Scott Whitney and I am Unqualified.